Thoughts on Education – Repetition leads to Mastery
In the Montessori classroom, the environment is full of research-based materials and lessons appropriate for the age of the children served. As a CCMA Accredited school, the lead teachers are teaching at the level at which they were trained at MACTE-accredited teachers' colleges around the world.
Self-directed movement is built into the structure of the classroom. With all of these unique Montessori tenets in place, the ultimate goal is to create situations in which the task and the developmental needs of the child "match" and the child becomes absorbed in his work.
This is what Csikszentmihalyi (link to his TedTalk) called engagement - the state of "flow." Montessori described her first "never- to-be-forgotten" discovery of this phenomenon while observing an engaged child:
"I watched the child intently without disturbing her at first, and began to count how many times she repeated the exercise; then, seeing that she was continuing for a long time, I picked up the little arm-chair in which she was seated, and placed chair and child upon the table; the little creature hastily caught up her case of insets, laid it across the arms of her chair, and gathering the cylinders into her lap, set to work again. Then I called upon all the children to sing; they sang, but the little girl continued undisturbed, repeating her exercise even after the short song had come to an end. I counted forty-four repetitions; when at last she ceased, it was quite independent of any surrounding stimuli which might have distracted her, and she looked round with a satisfied air, almost as if awakening from a refreshing nap."
Maria Montessori, Spontaneous Activity in Education
Today, neuroscience has been able to identify the exact mechanisms (particular proteins and different types of brain cells) of what is often referred to as brain plasticity - the fact that the neural circuitry in the brain reorganizes itself in response to experience or sensory stimulation.
Researcher Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi became famous in his field for his insights on a human experience that he came to describe as "flow." When experiencing flow, a person is so completely engaged in what he or she is doing that their sense of time and place melt away. This happens when the task at hand is not too easy, not too difficult, but a notch or two beyond the person's current abilities. When the mind and body are stretched in this way, the effort itself is the most delicious reward.
Daniel Pink, Drive
Contrary to what we usually believe...the best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times - although such experiences can also be enjoyable if we have worked hard to attain them. The best moments usually occur when a person's body or mind is stretched to the limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience
Different types of brain plasticity dominate during certain times in a person's life: It occurs during normal brain development from infancy to adulthood and as an adaptive mechanism to compensate for lost functions or to maximize function.
Our brains are designed to be engaged in meaningful activity. When humans are deprived of engagement in their lives, Csikszentmihalyi found that they are plunged into a state "eerily similar to a serious psychiatric disorder" (Pink).
Dr. Montessori came to realize that when children have a stable environment in which they can experience engagement with the materials, many psychological and behavioural problems disappeared and the children are able to reach their full human potential.
Csikszentmihalyi and Montessori both came to understand how, in humans, the boundaries between work and play are somewhat artificial, and that children, when guided toward meaningful work by their own volitions and guidance by the directress, are our best example of this.
Head of Schools
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In the Montessori classroom, the environment is full of research-based materials and lessons appropriate for the age of the children served. As a CCMA Accredited school, the lead teachers are teaching at the level at which they were trained at MACTE-accredited teachers’ colleges around the world. Self-directed movement is built into the structure of the classroom. With […]